Friday, March 13, 2009

Jon Stewart Takes On U.S. "Journalism"

Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, has a good piece on the abject failure of the major media to investigate the crap-sandwich of lies we've been fed for the past decade on a variety of subjects (e.g. the run-up to the Iraq War, the "Masters of the World" drunk-driving our financial system into collapse). Repeatedly, they merely parroted what the powerful told them, or at best included quotes from the powerful on the "other side" of whatever issue was at hand. If a Wall Street mogul was (surprise!) bullish on his company, then you might sprinkle in a quote from a competitor for "balance" -- heaven forfend you actually do some digging to see if he's lying!

The launchpad for his critique is Jon Stewart's on-air excoriation of CNBC's "Mad Money" Jim Cramer, who repeatedly provided an on-air platform for Wall Street moguls to lie barefacedly, without ever investigating their claims.
STEWART:   But what is the responsibility of the people who cover Wall Street?  . . . . I'm under the assumption, and maybe this is purely ridiculous, but I'm under the assumption that you don't just take their word at face value.  That you actually then go around and try to figure it out (applause).
Eons ago, in the classrooms of the Indiana University School of Journalism, they actually taught us this stuff. Not so much about makeup, or how to preserve "access" to the powerful. But they taught us that a news article should contain quotes and facts, and the two should be clearly distinguished: Quotes were what they told you, and facts were what you found out.

It's not as easy as excerpting a press release, and it's certainly more expensive. But it lets you shave/put on makeup and meet the eyes of the person in the mirror.


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